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10 Cosy Cottages With Open Fires

Thursday, November 5th, 2015
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At this time of year, we all dream of having a roaring fire to cuddle up in front of. After a long day exploring the local town or roaming through the countryside, there’s nothing better than stoking up the fire and relaxing in its glow. For a cosy winter getaway this year, take a look at these stunning cottages with glorious open fires.

Oughtershaw Hall, Yorkshire Dales

See it here: Ref. 921374

For a grand getaway with family and friends, look no further than this splendid country estate in the Yorkshire Dales National Park, with no fewer than three open fires!

The Lodge, Lake District

See it here: Ref 911747

The Lodge is the perfect romantic bolthole for a winter getaway. Just picture yourself snuggling up with your loved one in front of the warming woodburner with a glass of wine!

Wenning Bank, Yorkshire Dales

See it here: Ref 904721

Wenning Bank is a picturesque Grade II listed country house in the heart of Three Peaks Country; ideal for a small family or two couples looking for a rural retreat with a roaring fire.

Old Chapel, Devon

See it here: Ref. 919297

This spectacular chapel conversion is nestled near the North Devon coastline. With a floor-to-ceiling stone fireplace, wonderful sea views and ten acres of grounds, this holiday home is truly impressive.

Driftwood, Anglesey

See it here: Ref 4196

Just 150 yards from the beach, Driftwood is bright and airy with stripped pine floors, contemporary décor and a wonderful cosy woodburner.

Nethergill Farm Byre, Yorkshire Dales

See it here: Ref 22132

Head to Nethergill Farm Byre for a peaceful holiday away from the hustle and bustle. With a tranquil farm location and no phone signal, you’re sure to come home refreshed and rejuvenated.

Afallon, Gwynedd

See it here: Ref 926773

This lovely period town house, just a few minutes’ walk from Porthmadog harbour, is a shabby chic dream with beautiful original features and striking feature fireplaces.

San Therese, County Clare

See it here: Ref 4645

San Therese is a fantastic property for holidays with family or friends, enjoying breath-taking views out across the Clare coastline and just two miles from the famous Flaggy Shore.

Idlers Cottage, Somerset

See it here: Ref 3516

This charming romantic retreat is like something from a story book with its quaint décor and snug woodburner- spend the morning in bed watching the flames dance.

17 The Cliff, Cornwall

See it here: Ref 26244

Perched on the cliff above Mevagissey, this inviting cottage is located close to the South West Coast Path and just five minutes’ walk from the harbour with its shops, pubs and restaurants.

Rent a holiday cottage with a log fire

We’ve over 2,900 cottages with open fires for you to choose from so if you’re looking for a cosy cottage where you can relax in front of a roaring fire, please visit our website and take your pick!

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Louise O'Toole

By Louise O'Toole

Louise loves reading, shopping, baking and cosy country pubs with log fires. A nice cup of tea will never be turned down. She has spent many childhood summers on the beach in Cornwall and walking the hills of the Lake District.

Forget the tea round- only 1% of tea-loving Brits say colleagues make the best tea!

Wednesday, November 4th, 2015
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Recently, we commissioned a YouGov survey into British tea drinking habits. It revealed that the majority of British people who like tea, think that they make the best cup of tea from a list of people including their colleagues.

In total, 2,026 British adults took part and only 1% of those who liked tea rated their colleagues as making the best cup of tea. So if you make tea rounds at work to boost your popularity or get ahead, you may as well hang up your teaspoon now!

Over half (59%) of all the participants who liked tea, said that they make the best cups of tea, with their partner coming in second (14%) and their mum third (9%) from a list.

Even marriage doesn’t much improve your chances, as only 25% of married people who liked tea said their partner made the best cup, whilst 60% still claimed their own tea making skills were the best. Clearly for the British, even committing yourself to someone for life doesn’t mean that you’ll admit they make a better cuppa than you do!

Cup of tea

Image by Leanne Dempsey

Interestingly, the percentages of people who think they make the best tea also rises with age (41% of 18-24s who liked tea claimed to make the best tea, in comparison to 68% of those aged 55+), suggesting that we perfect our technique over time and become more confident in our method the older we get.

Findings from the survey also showed that 84% of Brits said they liked tea, and a further 84% of those who liked tea said they drink at least one cup per day. The most popular way to take English Breakfast tea was white with milk and no sugar (48%).

You can find out more of our survey results, as well as some other titbits of information around the British love affair with the brew by taking a look at our tea based infographic.

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Louise O'Toole

By Louise O'Toole

Louise loves reading, shopping, baking and cosy country pubs with log fires. A nice cup of tea will never be turned down. She has spent many childhood summers on the beach in Cornwall and walking the hills of the Lake District.

Spotlight On: Dracula’s Whitby

Saturday, October 31st, 2015
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Happy Halloween from everyone at Sykes Cottages! As it’s Halloween, we thought we’d take the opportunity to celebrate Whitby, where Bram Stoker was inspired to write Dracula. Bram stayed here in 1890 whilst trying to decide if it was a good place to bring his family for a holiday. However, he became particularly taken with the Gothic charm of the town and was moved to write what has become one of most well-known Gothic novels in the world. So today, we’re looking at some of the best Dracula-related attractions you can visit in this picturesque Yorkshire town.

Whitby Abbey

Whitby Abbey, in all its Gothic grandeur, was instrumental in helping inspire Stoker to write Dracula. He loved the atmosphere that the imposing, ruined abbey created, perched on top of the hill overlooking the town. Though the abbey is in ruins, it’s still enchantingly beautiful and you can still visit it today. Take the 199 steps up from the town (the same steps that the shadowy animal ran up in Dracula, after it came ashore from the deserted ship) and soak up the same majestic landscape that inspired one of the best Gothic novels of all time.

Bram Stoker’s Dracula Experience

This family-friendly tour is a lovely way to spend an afternoon in Whitby. Bram Stoker’s Dracula Experience tells the tale of Dracula and his connections to Whitby. Using special effects, live actors and animated scenes, this tour is guaranteed to send a chill down your spine and at just £9.00 for a family of four, you can’t go wrong. If you really feel like scaring yourself, why not book yourself onto one of their Paranormal Investigations Nights which are available on the first Saturday of each month. The building in which the experience is located is often said to be haunted, with a rich and eclectic history dating back hundreds of years- even the staff are said to have witnesses bizarre goings on. Don’t say we didn’t warn you!

In Search of Dracula Walk

To learn even more about how Whitby inspired Stoker to write Dracula, try the In Search of Dracula walk. Run by ‘The Man in Black’, Harry Collett, these tours come well recommended on TripAdvisor where they’re described as creepy, entertaining and informative. Harry will guide you through the back streets of Whitby, telling stories of the local folklore and myths that inspired Stoker to write his masterpiece, and walking you through the streets that Dracula stalked in the novel.

To browse our full collection of cottages in Whitby, please visit our website! Whether you’re looking for a romantic getaway with your loved one or a fun-filled family holiday on the Yorkshire coast, we’ve holiday homes to suit everyone.

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Louise O'Toole

By Louise O'Toole

Louise loves reading, shopping, baking and cosy country pubs with log fires. A nice cup of tea will never be turned down. She has spent many childhood summers on the beach in Cornwall and walking the hills of the Lake District.

10 things you must do on a Welsh holiday

Saturday, October 24th, 2015
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If you’re planning your first-time visit to Wales and need a bit of help on what you should look out for while you’re there, here’s our guide to the ten things that you must do when on a Welsh holiday. From scoffing Welsh cheese to cheering on the Welsh rugby team, this list will help you along the way to making the most of your getaway in this beautiful part of the world.

1. Visit a castle

With over 600 castles to choose from, no trip to this historic country is complete without paying a visit to one of the many majestic castles on offer.

2. Climb a mountain

Whether it’s Snowdon, Pen Y Fan or Moel Siabod, there is no shortage of mountains to climb in Wales. There’s something for every level of ability and the views when you get to the top are breathtaking.

3. Indulge in some Welsh delicacies

Caerphilly cheese, Glamorgan sausages, Welsh rarebit, Bara brith, laverbread, Welsh cakes- the list is endless and decidedly delicious.

4. Head to the beach

With 41 Blue Flag beaches, Wales has some of the UK’s cleanest and safest beaches, with some pretty spectacular scenery to boot!

5. Watch the rugby

The Welsh are passionate about rugby and watching a match here is a magical experience. The Millennium Stadium in Cardiff is said to be one of the most atmospheric sporting venues in the world so if you can, grab a ticket to see the Welsh national rugby team in action here.

6. Go underground

Its unique mining heritage means that Wales has plenty to offer in terms of underground attractions, from Bounce Below, the underground trampoline in a slate cavern, to the Dolaucothi Gold Mines in Carmarthenshire.

Bounce Below

Image via

7. Walk some of the Welsh Coastal Path

With 870 miles of coastline to explore, the Wales Coastal Path is a must for anyone holidaying in Wales. Whether you fancy a morning stroll by the sea or a weekend’s hiking along the coast, make the most of this superb pathway on your next holiday.

8. Try your hand at surfing

Wales- South Wales in particular- has some of the best surfing spots in the UK. Whitesands in Pembrokeshire is ideal for beginners while Llantwit Major in Glamorgan is perfect for the more experienced surfer.

9. Ride a steam train

Wales’ mining history also means that narrow gauge steam trains are easy to come by- a fantastic way to explore the countryside! Llanberis Lake Railway offers unbeatable views of Snowdonia, whilst the Brecon Mountain Railway takes in 13th century castle ruins and the highest peak in South Wales.

10. Visit an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty

Wales has six AONB- Anglesey, Gower, Dee Valley, the Clwydian Range, Llŷn and Wye Valley. Boasting some of the most stunning scenery that Britain has to offer, you can’t afford to miss experiencing these places.

If you’ve been inspired to visit Wales, make sure you take a look through our fantastic collection of holiday cottages in Wales. From Snowdonia to Pembrokeshire, we’ve a wide range of cottages perfect for every occasion; your Welsh getaway wouldn’t be complete without a cosy Welsh cottage to return to after all your adventures!

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Louise O'Toole

By Louise O'Toole

Louise loves reading, shopping, baking and cosy country pubs with log fires. A nice cup of tea will never be turned down. She has spent many childhood summers on the beach in Cornwall and walking the hills of the Lake District.

Afternoon Tea Recipes

Tuesday, October 13th, 2015
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After the end of this year’s Great British Bake Off, we’re currently experiencing a giant cake-shaped hole in our lives and we’re sure many of you are feeling the same. To remedy this, we suggest planning your own afternoon tea, complete with dainty sandwiches, teapots and of course, lots of beautiful cakes. To get you started, here’s a few delicious baking recipes that would be perfect served for afternoon tea.

Pink Macarons with Chocolate Filling

Afternoon tea isn’t afternoon tea without some cute little macarons on the table- these pretty pink ones are Instagram gold. This recipe makes 20 macarons and takes around an hour and a quarter. Recipe via

Pink Macarons with Chocolate Filling

Pink Macarons with Chocolate Filling


  • 175g icing sugar
  • 125g ground almonds
  • Egg whites from 3 large eggs
  • 75g unrefined golden caster sugar
  • Few drops of pink food colouring
  • Pinch of salt
  • 200g dark chocolate chips
  • 200ml double cream
  • 1 tsp brandy
  • 15g unsalted butter


  1. Line two baking sheets with parchment and heat oven to 160C.
  2. Mix ground almonds and icing sugar together in a food processor, then sift into a bowl.
  3. Place the egg whites into a separate bowl and add pinch of salt. To make the meringue, whisk the egg whites into soft peaks, then gradually whisk in caster sugar until thick and glossy. Add a few drops of pink food colouring into the mix.
  4. Fold half of the almond and icing sugar mix into the meringue and stir in. With care, add the remaining almond and icing sugar mix- fold it in using a metal spatula or spoon until it is shiny with a thick, ribbon-like consistency.
  5. Spoon mix into a piping bag with a 1cm plain nozzle. Pipe small equal rounds onto the baking sheets, each around 3cm across. Tap the baking sheet gently on the work surface and then leave to stand for around 10 minutes until a slight skin forms.
  6. Bake for 15 minutes before cooling.
  7. For the chocolate filling, heat the chocolate and double cream in a pan until melted. Add the butter and brandy and beat into a smooth consistency. Spread the filling on half of each macaron and then sandwich together.


Battenburg Cake

A true classic for afternoon tea, Battenburg always looks pretty and brings a bit of nostalgia to the table. This recipe will serve 8-10 people and take around 25 minutes to make. Recipe via

Battenburg Cake

Battenburg Cake


  • 175g caster sugar
  • 175g softened butter
  • 3 medium eggs
  • 175g self-raising flour
  • 2 tbsp milk
  • Pink or red liquid food colouring
  • 10-12 apricot glaze or smooth apricot jam
  • 350g white marzipan
  • Icing sugar to dust


  1. Line a 26cm x 16.5cm baking tin with parchment and cut and extra piece of parchment the length of the tin, just slightly taller than the height of the tin.
  2. Cream the sugar and butter until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, adding a dessert spoon of flour with each egg, which stops the mixture from curdling. Fold in the remaining flour and milk.
  3. Spoon half of the mixture lengthways into one half of the baking tin. Place the strip of baking parchment into the tin to keep the two coloured sponges separate. Add the food dye to the remaining mixture and spoon into the other half of the tin.
  4. Bake at 180C for 25-30 minutes or until well-risen and firm to touch. Leave to cool in the tin for 5-10 minutes then leave to cool fully on a wire rack.
  5. Cut in half to separate the two colours and neaten around the edges. Cut in half again to give four strips of cake (two of each colour). Spread the apricot jam over the cake and stick the strips together in a chequerboard pattern.
  6. Roll the marzipan out on a surface lightly dusted with icing sugar, until it’s the length of the cake and just more than four times the width. Place the cake at the edge of the marzipan and roll it up, neatening the edges at the end.
  7. Use a knife to make a criss-cross pattern on top of the cake and cut the ends off each side so you can see the different-coloured sponges.


Strawberry Cream Tea Cake

You can’t have an afternoon tea without scones and this super-sized scone is something a little different and impressive to serve to your guests. This recipe serves six and takes around 50 minutes. Recipe via

Strawberry Cream Tea Cake

Strawberry Cream Tea Cake


  • 175g frozen butter
  • 250g self-raising flour
  • 100g golden caster sugar
  • 150ml full fat milk
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • Squeeze of lemon juice
  • 1 beaten egg
  • 350g sliced strawberries
  • 1 tbsp strawberry jam
  • 140g clotted cream
  • Small drop vanilla extract


  1. Heat oven to 220C. Grate butter into a bowl using the coarse side of a box grater. Place grated butter in freezer for 5 minutes.
  2. Next, with a spatula, mix the butter, flour, 50g sugar and baking powder. Add the lemon juice and milk and bring together until you have a dough speckled with butter. Knead several times on a floured surface.
  3. Roll into a circle and press into lightly greased round tin (around 20cm). Brush the top with the beaten egg and dust with a little more sugar. Bake for 20 minutes until risen and golden before transferring to a wire rack to cool.
  4. While the scone cools, mix the strawberries, sugar and jam in a bowl, then set aside. In a separate bowl, whisk the clotted cream, 50g sugar and vanilla extract until stiff.
  5. Assemble the cake by placing the scone base on a plate, spread the cream on top, and then pile the strawberries on. Cut into slices.

If you succeed in trying any of the above recipes then let us know how you get on! We’d love to see your efforts- you can send us your images via Facebook or Twitter.

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Louise O'Toole

By Louise O'Toole

Louise loves reading, shopping, baking and cosy country pubs with log fires. A nice cup of tea will never be turned down. She has spent many childhood summers on the beach in Cornwall and walking the hills of the Lake District.